“Gothics”—a time before the word goth had even taken shape—believed in the do-it-yourself punk ethos that anyone could pick up an instrument. This, alongside the bric-a-brac fashion of Adam Ant and the long-winded atmospheric malaise of Bauhaus’ 1979 single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” gray clouds were starting to form. And in the unlikely city of Hamburg, a brazen and haunting gang of five women formed Xmal Deutschland. Amidst the dark ruckus that coalesced at the turn of the 1980s, these similarly-styled incendiaries began practicing in a rehearsal room that belonged to some of their boyfriends’ bands. As any true punk would, Xmal Deutschland’s members Caro May, Rita Simon, Manuela Rickers, Fiona Sangster and Anja Huwe, started the band despite any previous musical experience.
The “Schwarze Welt” seven-inch was released on the local punk label, ZickZack, in 1981 and introduced the band as an unsettling swarm of intensity. Then came the release of the “Incubus Succubus” single in 1982, which instantly became a post-punk classic. That same year, the band performed in London as support for the Cocteau Twins; it was the platform they needed to ricochet into the arms of the ripped fishnet masses. Xmal Deutschland’s soon found success with four albums, debut Fetisch, sophomore Tocsin (on cult UK label 4AD) and follow-up Viva and final Devils. The band disbanded in 1990.
2024 sees the release of Early Singles (1981-1982), a map of the foundational movements of Xmal Deutschland, just seconds before takeoff.